Moves are afoot in the Eastern Cape to accelerate addressing challenges in infrastructure and government services facing the citrus producing Sundays River Valley (SRV) community made up of Addo, Kirkwood, Patterson, subsequent a session between government and multi-stakeholder forum to address challenges previously reported to the Provincial Government.
Eastern Cape Provincial Government and Sundays River Valley multi-stakeholder forum which includes local businesses, civil society, farmers and churches agreed to work together to speed up infrastructure upgrade of the towns in the area to allow smooth running of business and a better life for locals.
This was decided at a meeting between government and Sundays River valley stakeholders held at Sunland, outside Addo to discuss issues presented by the local stakeholders to the Premier mid-2016. Water license for citrus growers, water treatment works, condition of roads, need for human settlement and education forward planning are the main issues brought by the multi stakeholder forum to the provincial government.
Sundays River Citrus Company Managing Director, Hannes de Waal, said they highlighted that the industry was growing at a phenomenal rate and that local infrastructure was lagging behind, “We think they are indeed reacting very positively and that they will find way to address challenges we face together as a community in Sundays River Valley. We are very positive about what we hear. They pointed out collaboration between various players in the Valley and we have always been open about that. That is why we created leadership forum and we will continue to collaborate with anybody who wants to make positive contribution and improve matters for the community. One also heard that the departments are taking the tasks they have quite seriously. We are hopeful that the budgets they require in order to create the necessary infrastructure will be allocated to them in good time. I think all these things are going to be very important to ensure the success we look for,” said de Waal, adding that they are happy with the reaction of government to the issues they raised.
He added that in response to the allegations of reported farm eviction and bad treatment of some farm workers, they are engaging affected individuals through their structures but encouraged all their members to work within the ambit of the law.
The Provincial government noted that there were challenges facing the district whose gravel and surface roads are in a poor state, and more effort that needs to be put in place to address the challenges. The Province has suggested to National Treasury; that there should be an agreement between Roads and Public Works and Rural Development and Land Reform Department that will enable availability of resources to address the citrus industry and related industries around the area. That approach will assist over and above the Provincial Treasury allocations meant for that area.
The Eastern Cape Province welcomed the resolutions of the session stressing the importance of government implementing work according to its plans. “Our interest is to resolve the issues raised so that we assist the industry to prosper and the flourish,” said Masualle. “It is encouraging that we have achieved in strengthening the platform of cooperation with the stakeholders. The departments have also demonstrated that they have factored the issues into their planning process for resolution,” he added.
Masualle reported that work has already started to resolve other issues. “Contractors for instance in respect to some of the critical roads here, are getting into site for upgrades and continuous improvements,” he said.
He added that: “Government is also looking into locating an Agri-Park in the Sunday’s River Vicinity which is expected to give much prominence to the citrus industry and the broader farming community in the area.”
The Premier also announced that a team which comprises of local mayors, DRRAR and DEDEAT will monitor and report on the implementation of various interventions agreed on. “Project must be done without fail, clinically and delivered on time. In that way we will be able to inspire public confidence,” said Masualle.